Dallas (CNN)Dallas Police Chief David Brown was thrust into national prominence after the July 7 ambush in his city that killed five police officers.
On the surface, Brown seemed to be the perfect person for the moment. An African-American police chief who worked in the same city where he grew up. Brown dropped out of The University of Texas to become a Dallas police officer patrolling the same rough and tumble inner-city neighborhood where he grew up.
At the very end of a nearly hourlong session with reporters on Thursday discussing his retirement, CNN asked Brown what he thought of the protests led by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to sit down or kneel during the playing of the national anthem before football games. The athlete is protesting police brutality and racism in the United States.
Brown refused to specifically say whether he approved or disapproved of Kaepernick’s actions.
“I wouldn’t want to look at this one voice in the sports field to point out as good, bad or indifferent,” Brown said. “What’s encouraging is that sports figures are trying to find a way to have a voice in this discussion. Many of these players are from the inner city, like me, and have firsthand experience with these kinds of problems.”
But Brown did challenge multimillionaire athletes to understand what police officers risk every day in the line of duty.
“I wish our officers could throw a fastball, or run for a thousand yards or dunk a basketball or win a Super Bowl and be compensated for it,” Brown said. “If we were the best player on the team we’d get a max contract, close to what our whole department is asking for as an increase. Even average ball players get more than people willing to give their lives for our safety.”
Before leaving the stage, Brown said citizens should think about this every time they pay $12 for a beer at a taxpayer-funded professional sports stadium.
“I think you ought to think about this in much broader terms of American culture. What we value. Why are our cops, firefighters and teachers paid so little and our sports and other entertainment figures paid so much and how do we reconcile that in our minds?”